Architecture is my major. As an architecture student, I believe that architecture drives cultures and progression. Of course, you can also say that about science, so maybe science and architecture aren’t so different after all?
In this blog, I hope to stimulate some thinking into architecture and how it affects us more than just “Oh, that building looks cool.”
Let’s take a look at the science of human behavior. Human behaviors are based off of everything we do and everything we feel as an individual as well as the entire race. We as an individual are influenced in different ways that affect a behaviors. We are influenced by our nature, what we were born into (our genetics, creative mind/analytical mind) and our nurture, what we grew up into (religion, social norms, attitudes). Wikipedia has a more in depth description of human behavior.
Now I am confident in saying that our current world would not exist if it weren’t for the presence of creativity. This is what defines us as a human species. Everyone uses creativity everyday of their lives and it can create small changes or even changes the entire culture. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:
In the Stuckeman Family Building (the architecture building), there are 2 main entrances that allow the architecture students to enter with swipe access any time out of normal office hours. There are also a couple doors that exit outside as an emergency exit from the stairwells. As architecture students who like to save as much time as possible, we realized that entering through this one particular stairwell exit was a lot faster in getting to our particular studio space than walking through the main entrance. Of course this door was always locked to the outside so we had to think of (creative) ways to keep the door propped. We’d use rocks, sticks, pieces of leftover model material, etc… At first, the school would post signs telling us to stop but then eventually realized it was better for everyone to add a door handle and a swipe access to this door. Now my classmates and classes to come have easier access to our studio space and all we had to do was just be creative and break just some rules. Somehow my students and I changed the attitudes of the heads of the building. We also changed the social norms of entering through the “front door” of the building.
We are influenced by what I personally view as our unintentional (economic status) as well intentional environments (sidewalks). Sidewalks and urban layout has all been thought out and designed intentionally. Why do we follow sidewalks? There is not actual law that forces us to. We are influenced by design to behave a certain way. Although we are greatly influenced by environment, sometimes we are creative enough to influence the environment ourselves as shown in the picture below:
In architecture, light, materials, space, color, and much more are thoughtfully considered and carefully decided. Every single decision affects human behavior. In my room, I always have my blind open but when I look at the windows in the building across from me, I never see the blinds open.. Why?
My windows are facing the Northwest which means that I will rarely see the sun except for when it starts setting. The building across from me with windows facing southeast gets direct sunlight for the majority of the day. Not only is the unintentional environment (sun) affecting the behavior of the students across from me as well as me (closing vs. opening the blinds) but the intentional environment (windows) affect our behavior (receiving too much sun or not enough).
I could talk for hours about how material, space, and color also affect our behaviors but I think that I may have said enough to provoke some thought. Please leave questions if you have more questions about the psychology of architecture. If you are interested in learning more about some buildings that use psychology to drive their design, you can read about Snøhetta’s Oslo Opera House in this article.
Our environment and design greatly influences human behavior in everyday life and as a whole human species.